A mourner in the first week of his aveilus was unable to pray at home and went to synagogue on a weekday where he was the only Kohen (or Levi).

Normally a mourner does not get called up to the Torah. In this case is there any permission to call up the mourner?

I was in a shul where the mourner did get an aliyah in such a case.

  • 1
    I was told that I was not supposed to get an Aliyah even if they wanted to give me one (yisro'el) but the rabbi said the popular hava amina was that I was supposed to get one. And IIRC I read that if called, one goes up.
    – rosends
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 9:54
  • 2
    Was there exactly a minyan so he couldn't step out? (Would it help even if that were the case?)
    – Heshy
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 10:14
  • I mean it's against Shulchan Arukh (384:2) and Judaism as popularly practiced. But I guess there might be a Heter somewhere. @Heshy that wouldn't help per above (unless it was Shabbat)
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 11:52
  • @Heshy The ovel himself did not know the din and so did not try to go out. Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 12:55

1 Answer 1


There is an opinion that a mourner can be called up to the Torah on a weekday - (but not at all on Shabbat). It's the opinion of the Maharil in Hilchot Kriat HaTorah (דף ק"ח סוף ע"א).

He is quoted by the Bach on the Tur Yoreh De'ah 384 and by the Prisha (ג) and Drisha [א] in Yoreh De'ah 400.

However, he is quoted as a singular opinion that nobody else holds like.

Thus the Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh De'ah 384:2 - סימן שפד - האבל אסור בתלמוד תורה - explicitly forbids a mourner during Shiva from getting an Aliya, even if he's the only Cohen around.

ב: אִם הָאָבֵל (ב) כֹּהֵן, וְאֵין בב''ה כֹּהֵן אַחֵר, אָסוּר לוֹ לַעֲלוֹת לִקְרוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה.‏

Actually, it clearly states that even if he gets called up, he may not go.

The Be'er Heitev explains why this is different from the Halacha - in 400:1 - that sometimes on Shabbat a mourner may / must get an Aliya.

On Shabbat, if not calling him up would be obvious - like in the case of a Rabbi who gets a weekly Aliya - then he gets his usual Aliya.

Or, on Shabbat, if they already called him up, then not going up would be a public display of mourning.

באר היטב (ב) כהן. כ' הב''ח ותימא דבסי' ת' בדין שבת כתב הרב דבאין שם כהן אחר אלא הוא מותר לקרותו וכאן לא כתב כלום וכ' הש''ך דלק''מ דהכא טעמא דאיסורא דאבל אסור בד''ת אתא לאשמועינן ומדין אבלות בשבת לא מיירי אבל התם דמיירי בכל הסי' מדין איסור אבלות בשבת קאמר דמותר לעלות משום דאל''כ ה''ל אבלות דפרהסיא ואין אבלות דפרהסיא נוהג בשבת והכי משמע התם להדיא עיין שם עכ''ל:‏

The Mishneh Berurah 135/45 and others add that both on Shabbos and during the week, it is better if the Cohen exits the shul until they start Kriat HaTorah and that they call a non-Cohen instead.

The relevant part of 400:1 for the record:

וְאִם קָרְאוּ אֶת הָאָבֵל לַעֲלוֹת לַתּוֹרָה, צָרִיךְ לַעֲלוֹת, שֶׁאִם הָיָה נִמְנָע הָיָה דָּבָר שֶׁל פַּרְהֶסְיָא; וְרַבֵּנוּ תָּם הָיוּ קוֹרִים אוֹתוֹ בְּכָל פַּעַם שְׁלִישִׁי, וְאֵרַע בּוֹ אֲבֵלוּת וְלֹא קְרָאוֹ הַחַזָּן, וְעָלָה הוּא מֵעַצְמוֹ וְאָמַר כֵּיוָן שֶׁהֻרְגַל לִקְרוֹתוֹ שְׁלִישִׁי בְּכָל שַׁבָּת, הָרוֹאָה שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה אוֹמֵר שֶׁבִּשְׁבִיל אֲבֵלוּת הוּא נִמְנָע, וְהָוֵי דְּבָרִים שֶׁל פַּרְהֶסְיָא.
וְכֵן אִם הַכֹּהֵן אָבֵל וְאֵין כֹּהֵן אַחֵר בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת, מֻתָּר לִקְרוֹתוֹ; אֲבָל בְּעִנְיָן אַחֵר, אָסוּר (הַגָּהוֹת מַיְמוֹנִי פ''ג מה''א) .

Note that the Maharil's opinion that an Avel shouldn't be called up at all on Shabbat is not mentioned.

Since the Bach, Prisha and Drisha are not easy to find online, here are pictures of the relevant pieces:

Here's the Bach on the Tur Yoreh De'ah 384 quoting the Maharil

Bach on the Tur Yoreh De'ah 384 quoting the Maharil

Here's the Drisha in Yoreh De'ah 400 quoting the Maharil

Drisha in Yoreh De'ah 400 quoting the Maharil

Here's the Prisha in Yoreh De'ah 400 quoting the Maharil

Prisha in Yoreh De'ah 400 quoting the Maharil

  • Are there any Heterim? Anyone who argues? What was the Shul the OP went to relying on?
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 14:51
  • @DoubleAA, as the B"H explained, this is part of the mourner's restrictions of being forbidden to study Torah; so allowing that and going against an explicit Shulchan Aruch would require a good source. So far I can tell you that the קיצור שולחן ערוך and the קיצור ש''ע ילקוט יוסף both forbid it with no loopholes. Will try look up more commentators later, once I'm closer to my bookshelf. Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 14:59
  • @DoubleAA - found a source permitting it. Changed the answer. Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 8:31
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    FYI - Bach, Drisha and Prisha are all available as copiable text on Sefaria.org. See e.g. here for the Bach you cite in the answer
    – Joel K
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 8:33

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